On Thursday 28 June some twenty classic cars, with their crews, assembled on Third Line, off Hockley Road, to celebrate the Hockley Valley Hill Climb. Sponsored by ‘’Motoring” representatives Heather Erwin & Kathey Stanton the event was a tribute to both drivers and cars from this evocative era. The last event took place there fifty years ago on Saturday, 5 May, 1962, organized by the British Empire Motor Club.
Three cars present actually competed in the original hill climb competitions on this dirt road, held twice a year between 1953 and 1962. David Holmes arrived with the ex-Tommy Hoan 1949 MG TC, a car that raced at Hockley Valley in 1953. Two drivers from the old days were also on hand, Al Sands and Frank Mount, who both raced there back in the day, in a Morgan and MG respectively. The Hoan MG arrived by trailer, as did the ex-Ed Leavens Sebring MGA of John Burgess, an example of the first truly postwar MG, and a sensation when it first appeared in 1955 with its flying-saucer shape.
The event was supported by the Headquarters British Car Club of Orangeville who assembled in a variety of in-period vehicles whichprovided a truly authentic feel. The cars proceeded to climb the hill from the original startline, some with gusto. Kathey Stanton was aboard the Al Sands-driven Allard J2X-Cadillac, enjoying a hair-raising ride in the passenger seat, which she will long remember. This Allard is the actual ex-Fred Hayes car, the star of Hockley Valley in the mid-fifties. Marlies Sands was driving the green Morgan Plus Four, raced by her husband at Hockley
Jean-Louis Valade in his cream 1951 MG TD entered into the spirit of the occasion, donning a leather flying helmet like racing drivers of yore. His wife Mary was also along with her 1975 MGB. Other eye-catching MGs were Malcolm Stanton’s 1948 TC and Don Bauman’s TF. The black Jaguar XK120 convertible of Ken Mason was representative of the car which dominated at Hockley in 1953-1954. The Mini of Mark and Leah Hill and the 1974 MGB of Ron and Denise Eccles added to the British flavour. By way of contrast Gerry Carson added a touch of class with his silver 1959 Mercedes 190SL convertible, recalling the renaissance of the German car industry in the fifties.
A truly rare bird was that of car collector Dorien Berteletti, who showed up with his maroon 1948 Bristol 400, a luxury car found in the UK some fifteen years ago in scruffy condition, but now a good driver after much work. This is the only example in Canada. Back at home was his Hudson straight-six racer which competed at Indianapolis in 1934.
A resident of Third Line, Vicki Randle (formerly Barbeau) showed up to say that she attended the races in the 1950s when a young girl. Pictures from that time show schoolgirls sitting on the bridge parapet as cars swept past off the startline, something that would be unthinkable today. Back then the Women’s
Institute raised funds by selling tea, hot dogs and slices of pie to hungry racers.
Following the hillclimb reenactment all repaired to Royal Chevrolet Cadillac in Orangeville, where David Montgomery cranked up the barbecue. Hosts Barry and Todd McKay and Gary Spring received the party in style to round off a marvelous trip down memory lane.
Written by Rupert Lloyd Thomas